Nothing is known of their lives except that they suffered martyrdom in Syria during the persecution of Diocletian.
A church erected on the site of their burial place was enlarged by the emperor Justinian. Devotion to the two saints spread rapidly in both East and West. A famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Their names were placed in the canon of the Mass, probably in the sixth century.
Legend says that they were twin brothers born in Arabia, who became skilled doctors. They were among those who are venerated in the East as the "moneyless ones" because they did not charge a fee for their services. It was impossible that such prominent persons would escape unnoticed in time of persecution: They were arrested and beheaded.
Nine centuries later, Francis of Assisi (October 4) rebuilt the dilapidated San Damiano chapel outside Assisi.
For a long time, it seems, we have been very conscious of Jesus' miracles as proofs of his divinity. What we sometimes overlook is Jesus' consuming interest in simply healing people's sickness, whatever other meaning his actions had. The power that "went out from him" was indeed a sign that God was definitively breaking into human history in final fulfillment of his promises; but the love of God was also concrete in a very human heart that was concerned about the suffering of his brothers and sisters. It is a reminder to Christians that salvation is for the whole person, the unique body-spirit unity.
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
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